Mizzou Collegiate Cattlewomen educate students about the beef industry

MCCW Secretary Maddie Grant: “...We’re just trying to feed the world honestly.”

The next time you see a cow hanging out on Lowry Mall, the Mizzou Collegiate Cattlewomen are probably responsible.

The group’s biggest event of the year, Meet Your Meat, is intended to fundraise as well as spark conversation with passersby. Each year they purchase 600 steaks to sell as ribeye sandwiches for the event, and each year they sell out.

“It’s such a great opportunity for us to just have people who are hungry and maybe want to see the cow, and then maybe hook them in and talk to them about what we’re doing in the industry and maybe some misconceptions. How we’re just trying to feed the world honestly,” MCCW Secretary Maddie Grant said.

The group is sponsored by the Missouri Beef Industry Council. The two organizations have a contract: If the MCCW assists the Missouri Beef Industry Council with at least ten events a year, and if at least 75 percent of their members take an online training course to become beef-advocacy certified, the MBIC provides funding for the MCCW to attend the Cattle Industry Convention.

All members who attend the convention need to be beef-advocacy certified. The convention is held in a different major city every year, and this year’s convention will be held in Nashville, Tennessee.

“The Missouri Beef Industry Council sees the MCCW as a partner in this industry; they’re kind of the boots on the ground when it comes to the college campuses, and they’re able to share the beef story with their peers,” said Taylor Tuttle, director of Marketing and Education for the MBIC.

The MCCW and the MBIC have similar goals.

“It’s just a natural fit because the MBIC, our whole goal is to drive beef demand and educate consumers about beef demand and beef production, and also educate consumers about where their food comes from and who is producing it,” Tuttle said.

The MBIC is part of the nationwide commodity checkoff program, which means that it is producer-funded. For every head of cattle sold in Missouri, $1 is collected and is in turn spent on education, promotion and research for the beef industry. The “Got Milk?” campaign is another example of a commodity checkoff program.

“Our whole goal is to drive beef demand by educating consumers about beef, about who is producing it, the nutritional value of beef, the importance of beef in your daily diet and really just help be that liaison between consumer and producer,” Tuttle said.

The MCCW believe that there are a lot of misconceptions about the beef industry, and they want to start conversations with consumers about why they have the opinions that they do.

“We’re not necessarily out there to change everybody’s mind and tell people that don’t want to eat beef that they have to,” Grant said. “We’re mostly just out there to show people the facts from our end because there’s a lot of facts there that are incorrect and are coming from sources that have nothing to do with agriculture.”

One of the major consumer concerns that the MCCW tries to address is antibiotic usage in the beef industry and whether it causes antibiotic resistance in humans.

“The number-one location that you can find the most antibiotic resistance are in human hospitals,” MCCW President Kaitlin Epperson said. “So I would argue that most of the antibiotic resistance we see is not coming from agriculture. It’s coming from human usage.”

Many consumers are also worried that growth hormones the beef industry uses to promote growth in cattle will affect their own growth.

“... Science has continually proven that that’s not going to happen,” Epperson said. “The amount of hormones that are used in the beef industry as a growth promotant is so small that by the time you analyze the meat products and such, it’s not visible in the product. It’s impossible to come up with any sort of animal product that doesn’t naturally have hormones present.”

Another major concern is that the methane emissions from cattle are contributing to global warming.

“The amount of emissions we’re getting from things like automobiles and factories and all sorts of things that our new technologies allow us to do is a much larger concern to the ozone and the environment as a whole than the cattle industry,” Epperson said.

The MCCW encourages students to ask them any and all questions that they may have about the beef industry. Watch for Meet Your Meat on Lowry Mall this spring.

Edited by Kyra Haas | khaas@themaneater.com

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